Category: long-distance relationships


Opening The Vault: Part Sixty Eight

May 28th, 2010 — 6:31pm

When it comes to romance, I’ve found again and again that fate tends to have an unusual sense of timing. So it was back in 2001, as my year-long stint in Southern Illinois winded down and I connected with local bachelor Steve.

We met about a month before I was scheduled to return to New York — and he captured my heart right away. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of ’01…

Marion, IL
December 20th, 2001

Dear Diary,

Well, my hope to have a little romance before leaving the Midwest has been realized in the biggest way.

His name is Steve, and he is smart, cute, funny, affectionate and giving. And the chemistry between us has made me delay my return date to New York three times!

It all started just before Thanksgiving, when my neighbor’s family — Steve’s parents — invited me over for dinner. Tired from a hard workout the day before,
I decided to keep it simple — no makeup except concealer, a t-shirt and cargo pants.

I ended up regretting my casual mode as soon as they introduced me to their stepson Steve. Several trips to the bathroom didn’t make me feel better, but the undeniable chemistry between Steve and I did.

Conversation flowed freely during dinner, and I found myself thinking how nice it was to be setting across from a cute, personable man for the first time in ages.

After eating, we continued talking. Somehow it came up that I’d never seen all of the house, so I suggested Steve give me a tour. As I followed him up the stairs, I could feel sparks in the air. Needless to say, I forgot about my naked face at this point.

Back in the living room, Steve and I talked about everything from travel to TV shows, laughing often and communicating well — until the subject of Thanksgiving came up.

I asked him about his plans. Steve hadn’t mentioned her once all evening, but he suddenly admitted–

“My girlfriend.”

I was both annoyed and disappointed, so I left shortly thereafter and figured that was that.

Until ten days later when I came home from work to find not one but two messages from Steve. The first one was endearingly nervous.

“I hope we can go out for drinks,” he said. “But if not, that’s okay too.”

In the second voicemail, he left his number — after forgetting to do so in the first but telling me to call him. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted what came next.

* * *

The connection between Steve and I quickly blossomed into love — a love that, like my first, would be tested by geography.

| long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty Eight

December 13th, 2009 — 6:33pm

If you still have feelings for an ex, does that mean you’re not really in love with your new significant other? That weighty question was on my mind during an intense encounter with California-based old flame Mark (a.k.a Sparky) back in 1998.

Le Parker Meridien: Sparky and I caught up at this Midtown hotel back in ‘98

Sparky’s visit came at a time when I was at my most vulnerable — a little more than a month after losing my mom. Up in his hotel room, the connection between us resurfaced. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of ’98…

November 21, 1998 – Volume 70
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

As Sparky and I embraced, I could feel his face turning toward mine. I made sure to keep only my cheek next to him.

He suggested I come out to Arizona.

“You could be the other woman,” he said. “Okay, let’s have a fling.”

I wasn’t entirely sure he was joking, but we both grew serious and Sparky said he has too much respect for his wife (as do I for David) to do that.

Suddenly, I could feel myself getting emotional and nostalgic about us. I struggled with the words. Finally, they came.

“When we were together, I was completely certain I loved you,” I admitted. “I haven’t had that certainty since.”

“Wow,” he said, clearly taken aback. “That’s really nice of you to say.”

I also told Sparky how upset I was to learn of his marriage. Though, I said, I never expected him to wait for me–

“I always thought we’d get back together someday.”

“Now you tell me!” he said with a laugh.

Later, Sparky reassured me that I will be okay, and reiterated how sorry he is about mom’s passing.

We hugged again. He squeezed my hand as he told me–

“I’ll always be here for you.”

He said not seeing me had been gnawing away at him since Mom’s passing in September, that he wanted to just jump on a plane.

“I still care about you — I think about you all the time.”

About David, he said he was 99 and 1/10 percent happy for me, but also a little jealous.

“Because I wish it was me.”

So, what does all of this mean for my relationship with David?

I don’t know.

* * *

David and I managed to survive Hurricane Sparky. And a happy milestone for us as a couple would prompt David to execute one of the greatest grand gestures I’ve ever received.

| catching up with old flames, Le Parker Meridien, long-distance relationships, losing a parent, Midtown NYC hotels

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty Five

November 15th, 2009 — 3:59pm


When you find out an ex is getting married, it’s always a shock — especially if you’ve harbored hope for reconciliation. The shock was never greater than it was with California-based old flame Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Since we had kept in close touch and seen each other several times after breaking up, it was the last thing I expected to hear. I now Open The Vault and take you back to February of ‘98…

February 27th, 1998 — Bangor, Maine

Dear Diary,

During our phone conversation the other day, Mark said that telling me about his marriage was hard because we haven’t been just friends over the last couple of years.

“I know,” I answered.

“You’re moving on with your life,” he said — as I stared out the window feeling like that is not at all what I’ve done. But, he added, his new wife Caroline knows about our history together. And he said the last thing I would ever have expected to hear after what he’d already told me.

“I still care about you…I love you.”

“I love you too,” I said, for what was undoubtedly the last time.

Somehow, we managed to laugh a little. I told Mark the only reason I’d called was because it was my turn to do so, reminding him that even after all of this time, I’m still keeping score.

As our conversation drew to a close, Sparky and I talked about staying in touch. I told him that just because he’s married it doesn’t mean I don’t care about him. He assured me he would keep me posted on his health and even gave me his new email address.

“So, you’ll email me today?” he asked.

“Maybe…if I know it will garner a response,” I replied.

“It will,” he said firmly.

After telling me to take care, he said goodbye — and I started crying.

You see, I was so certain that there was a reason behind Sparky and I remaining in touch over the years. Like our sporadic reunions were part of a grand design to eventually restore our romance to its initial glory. That we would at least get the chance to be what a distance of 3,000 miles never allowed us to — a normal couple.

I’ve spent two and a half years holding onto that dream. Letting go of it is like losing a part of myself — a very big part.

* * *

As I adjusted to the new reality between me and Sparky, eventually a new love found its way into my life. Fate being what it is, though, Sparky and I would be thrown together again — at what would be the most vulnerable time ever of my life.

| ex boyfriends, long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, when an ex gets married

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty Four

November 4th, 2009 — 7:41pm

When you remain friendly with an ex, you can feel it when there’s another seismic shift in your relationship. So it was with my California-based old flame Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

After breaking up in the summer of 1995, Sparky and I kept in close touch, communicating at least once a month and rekindling things whenever business brought him to New York. As 1998 began, I was surprised that two months had passed without a word from him. Sensing that something was wrong, I decided to call Sparky. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the winter of ‘98…

February 27th, 1998
Bangor, Maine

Dear Diary,

There’s a hole in my heart today. The reason for it — the unexpected revelation that Sparky and I are through, for good.

I’d sensed Mark pulling away from me when I moved here a couple of months ago. When he failed to call on my birthday, I wondered if that was his way of saying he was letting go.

Then, on my way to work yesterday, two songs that always remind me of him came on the radio. I had the strongest impulse yet to get in touch with Sparky.

I was sitting here in my living room when I called Sparky


“Call him,” my mother urged when asked for her opinion. “He’s been a very good friend to you and you never know what’s going on in someone’s life.”

So, I dialed Mark’s work number. A secretary answered and then he picked up.

“Hello there,” he said, sounding very upbeat. “I’m so glad you called.”

“I figured I should find out what’s been going on in your part of he world,” I replied.

“Happy belated Birthday,” he said (He didn’t forget…). “How are you? Is everything okay?”

Anxious, for once, to skip my end of the conversation, I quickly brought him up to date on work, grad school applications and Mom’s condition.

Finally, I asked him–

“So, what about you? Are you sick or married?”

“Well, you’re partly right,” he answered, adding that a lot has changed in his life recently.

I fell into a chair as Mark told me that he is indeed ill again — and that he got remarried two weeks ago. Tears welled up in my eyes and I fought to steady my voice.

Mark said his diverticulitis and colon cancer returned during the holidays and that was why he didn’t call on my birthday (he didn’t want me to worry). The marriage happened on Valentine’s Day in Hawaii.

“I’m really glad you called,” Mark kept repeating. “I just didn’t know how to tell you.”

“Understandably so,” I said meekly.

* * *

The shocking news of Sparky’s marriage felt like the final death knell for our complicated love. It would only be a matter of time, though, before fate threw us together again.

| Bangor, long-distance relationships, old flames, Opening The Vault

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty Two

October 3rd, 2009 — 3:07pm

When you still have feelings for each other, remaining friends with an ex can be tricky — as I discovered time and again with California native Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

Nearly two years after we broke up in 1995, I was crushed when a dinner encounter in NYC failed to produce those three little words from him. Oddly, I’d grown accustomed to hearing it in our post-breakup relationship. I soon found out the reason Sparky was tight lipped. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of ‘97.…

April 4th, 1997
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

Sparky called me today. I knew he’d eventually call, but didn’t expect to hear his voice at work this afternoon. I could feel my heart beating rapidly and the effort it took not to be tongue tied.

1 State Street Plaza: I was at my desk here at Thomson Financial when Sparky called

As if he’d read my mind, he told me what was going through his Monday night.

“I didn’t want to get too crazy,” he said.

“Meaning what?” I asked, wanting him to spell it out.

“I didn’t want to make it any harder than it had to be since I knew my visit was going to be short,” he said.

I told him I was surprised he’d been in such a hurry to leave, and wondered if it was because of me. Sparky insisted he was tired from his journey — and that he’d held back because “there’s a lot of etiquette” to our relationship.

“I didn’t want to degrade what we have,” he said firmly.

Sparky admitted that he thought about asking me to come back with him to his hotel.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want you to,” he told me, to which I responded that I had considered asking him to spend the night.

“I miss you,” I said finally.

“I miss you too,” he said — in that warm tone of voice that indicates he thinks of me often.

It meant so much that he called just to tell me, albeit without those three little words, that his feelings haven’t changed. All my doubts were laid to rest — our love is still alive.

We’ve spent more time being officially split up than we have as a couple and yet, we can’t seem to let go. Is it so wrong to hope that, someday, all of this what if-ing will lead us to a second chance together?

* * *
Though Sparky and I remained connected, we also continued to move forward in our separate lives. An unexpected twist of fate in his life would force us to do what we had been unable to when I first walked away.

| being friends with an ex, catching up with old flames, ex boyfriends, long-distance relationships, saying I love you

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty One

September 26th, 2009 — 3:10pm

When it comes to breakups, some are truly final while others simply begin a new chapter in your relationship. For long distance love Mark (a.k.a. Sparky) and I, it was a case of the latter.

After our rocky bicoastal romance ended in 1995, Sparky and I continued seeing each other periodically when business brought him to New York. Each time, the powerful chemistry between us would resurface. I now Open The Vault and take you back to March of ‘97…

March 31st, 1997
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I saw Sparky tonight for what was the briefest encounter we’ve had in the three years we’ve known each other. Amazingly enough, in the space of just a few hours, my feelings for him resurfaced with an intensity that had me in tears just a moment ago.

X Marks The Spot: Sparky and I reunited here at a now-defunct restaurant on 58th Street and First Avenue

After our tumultuous reunion last fall, I felt certain — or as close to being certain as I can ever be about what Sparky and I have (i.e. not very) — that each subsequent encounter would diminish his place in my heart. But it was the exact opposite that happened tonight.

I could feel the deepest emotional parts of me responding to his closeness. We lingered in one another’s arms every time we embraced. And it felt so wonderful, like it always does, when Sparky finally pulled me into a long kiss. Only one thing was missing — those three little words.

It never really occurred to me that that would happen because, no matter what, we’ve always said “I love you” when we’re together. As if, in the middle of our overwhelming differences and impossible situation, that was the one thing I could always count on. Until tonight.

Sparky told me several times how happy he was to see me, and he was the one who initiated most of our hugs. Maybe I’m being unfair, expecting him to pick up where we left off, but he makes me believe that’s possible every time we’re together. He’s the one who reiterates how we’re at the same point in our lives, and how I should remember him in the future.

He didn’t say “I love you,” and yet he seemed truly delighted to be with me again. They say silence speaks volumes and he didn’t mention a word about his live-in girlfriend. Can I assume this means his heart still belongs to me? More importantly, why does that even matter anymore?

* * *

The question of Mark’s feelings would be answered soon after our brief reunion — though it wasn’t enough to ward off a painful revisiting of where we’d gone so horribly wrong in the first place.

| catching up with old flames, ex boyfriends, First Avenue, long-distance relationships, saying I love you

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Seven

August 22nd, 2009 — 6:46pm

Sometimes it takes revisiting your past to appreciate what you have in the present. That’s what happened after my rocky reunion back in ‘96 with California-based ex Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

Our tumultuous two days together found me reevaluating the relationship I had just exited, with captivating but complicated teddy bear Larry. Sure enough, I found my way back to Larry, albeit with very specific restrictions about what might (and might not) be in store for us. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of 1996…

November 11th, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I think I’m becoming a pretty fickle woman when it comes to romantic entanglements. Today, Larry and I got back together — just one day after a hot and heavy makeout session with my hairdresser and less than a week after my reunion with Mark. My emotions are all over the place these days.

After Mark left, for the first time, I started wondering if Mom was right when she once surmised that I’m “in love with love” rather than still smitten with my on-again/off-again. I also found myself comparing Mark to Larry and feeling that Larry is unquestionably the better man.

Last Thursday, Larry had been on my mind quite a bit so I was surprised to come home and find a card from him — with the most beautiful words a man has ever articulated to me.

He wrote at great length about how I’ve changed his life and how much he regrets not being there for me when Mom first got sick. I knew we needed to see each other again, if only so I could say a lot of what I failed to during our “Last Supper,” as he called it.

Nobu: A delicious lunch here with Larry led to a reprise for us

Well, what was intended to be a farewell lunch turned into a stroll down memory lane. Eventually, Larry took my hand and we were in each other’s arms. All of the old feelings were there, and every part of me melted as he squeezed me tightly.

I reiterated my inability to make a commitment and, as always, Larry listened and heard me. What impressed me most, though, was the soul searching he’s done during our 3 weeks apart. He seems committed to leaving his emotional baggage in the past.

No matter how many times I kept coming back to my restrictions, he insisted he can accept them.

“I just want it to be as good as it can be,” he said, hastening to add, “Until we’re done.”

“No strings?” I replied cautiously.

“None,” he said.

Things are different this time. I’ve indicated we should date other people and we’re not going to see each other as much as we did before. But that doesn’t mean we can’t add to one another’s lives. There is a level of affection and understanding between Larry and I that I’ve had with no other man.

And now that I’ve shelved most of my wistfulness about Mark, I feel freer to enjoy Larry without any baggage of my own. Here’s hoping the second time around for us is as good as the first.

* * *

Larry and I managed to fall back into a nice groove with each other, one that would continue for a couple of months. Much like what happened with Mark, though, the age gap between us would become impossible to overcome.

| catching up with old flames, long-distance relationships, Nobu, reconciling with an ex

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Five

August 8th, 2009 — 12:57am

Regardless of time and distance, there are some old loves that linger long after a relationship formally ends. For me, that’s never been the case more than it was with my California-based ex Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

After breaking up with Sparky in June of 1995, we remained in touch. Six months later, he flew to New York for the holidays — an encounter that confirmed both our lingering feelings and the explosive differences that made me walk away.

About a year later and just days after my breakup with subsequent boyfriend Larry, Sparky found himself in New York again, this time on business. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of ‘96…

New York, NY
November 2, 1996

Dear Diary,

Sparky and I were reunited tonight — and, amazingly so, that old magic is still there between us.

When he arrived at my place, I gave him a quick hug and peck on the cheek, uncertain of how affectionate to be. Then, in my room, Sparky beckoned–

“Come here — I need a better hug,” and we embraced gain.

As I squeezed him tightly, all those familiar warm feelings flooded every part of me. And he noticed how I looked — several times.

“I never think you can get more beautiful,” he murmured. “But you always do.”

Girafe: Sparky and I reunited over dinner at this fabulous (and now, sadly, long gone) UES restaurant

Sparky pulled me close to him and held my hand as we walked to Girafe restaurant for dinner. He complimented me again and then we finally kissed, a brief but loving kiss.

Our conversation was full of reminiscing and references to what we’ve experienced separately since seeing each other last Christmas. Sparky mentioned his new live-in girlfriend. I filled him in on romantic and career events of the past year, unable to resist dredging up the problems we’ve had. He wistfully observed that I only seem to remember the “bad stuff.”

Attempting to justify some of the conflict between us, he reiterated his frustration about our geographically and age challenged situation.

“I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said tenderly. “I would have married you — I still would.”

We kissed again, a passionate kiss that felt so much like years ago, and Sparky quipped that we should leave everything behind and fly to Fiji.

Back at my place, we fell onto the bed, hugging and kissing again and again.

“So what else do you have to tell me?” I asked.

“Just I love you,” he said, reading my mind.

“I love you too,” I said.

* * *

Yes, the first night of a reunion with Sparky never failed to be blissful. The problem was we couldn’t seem to maintain that high — a fact of which I was painfully reminded the next day.

| catching up with old flames, first love, Girafe restaurant, long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault

The Allure Of The Unattainable

July 7th, 2009 — 9:30pm

At last month’s Dating Boot Camp event, NYC-based matchmaker Matt Titus talked about the rules of attraction. When a woman makes herself too available to a guy, he warned, it’s “game over.” I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience with that age-old rule of playing hard to get – and wondering if it still applies today.

Is there any value in playing hard to get?

Years ago, during my complicated relationship with California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky), I had a feeling that the built-in tension of our situation had a lot to do with his ardent pursuit of me.

Several months into our long-distance romance, I called him on it. Sparky insisted his only motivation was love. When I asked him a second time why he was so persistent, he gave me a different answer.

“Sometimes, it’s the quest of knowing what you can’t have that makes you so persistent,” he said.

Sparky’s observation made sense. After all, having grown up watching both soap operas and two parents whose enduring love had been preceded by a fiery courtship, I couldn’t help being enticed by the drama too. But is drama a prerequisite for passion? And does playing hard to get have to be a part of it?

Maybe not, says my good friend Heidi. Her new boyfriend recently told her that if they’re still together in a year, they should get married.

“This,” she told me, “is how our relationships should be… easy. I know the whole thing about ‘if it’s not worth fighting for, it’s not worth having,’ but I like this way much, much better.”

I think it’s easier to do without the drama – self-made or otherwise – when it feels like a relationship is progressing naturally over time and, of course, when you’re both on the same page about the direction in which it’s heading.

As for playing it cool, I’ve come to think of it more in terms of taking things slowly. Because when you’re making room for romance in your life, and balancing that with staying true to yourself, why rush it?

| Dating Boot Camp, long-distance relationships, Matt Titus, playing hard to get, relationship drama

The Allure Of The Unattainable

July 7th, 2009 — 4:30pm

At last month’s Dating Boot Camp event, NYC-based matchmaker Matt Titus talked about the rules of attraction. When a woman makes herself too available to a guy, he warned, it’s “game over.” I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience with that age-old rule of playing hard to get – and wondering if it still applies today.

Is there any value in playing hard to get?

Years ago, during my complicated relationship with California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky), I had a feeling that the built-in tension of our situation had a lot to do with his ardent pursuit of me.

Several months into our long-distance romance, I called him on it. Sparky insisted his only motivation was love. When I asked him a second time why he was so persistent, he gave me a different answer.

“Sometimes, it’s the quest of knowing what you can’t have that makes you so persistent,” he said.

Sparky’s observation made sense. After all, having grown up watching both soap operas and two parents whose enduring love had been preceded by a fiery courtship, I couldn’t help being enticed by the drama too. But is drama a prerequisite for passion? And does playing hard to get have to be a part of it?

Maybe not, says my good friend Heidi. Her new boyfriend recently told her that if they’re still together in a year, they should get married.

“This,” she told me, “is how our relationships should be… easy. I know the whole thing about ‘if it’s not worth fighting for, it’s not worth having,’ but I like this way much, much better.”

I think it’s easier to do without the drama – self-made or otherwise – when it feels like a relationship is progressing naturally over time and, of course, when you’re both on the same page about the direction in which it’s heading.

As for playing it cool, I’ve come to think of it more in terms of taking things slowly. Because when you’re making room for romance in your life, and balancing that with staying true to yourself, why rush it?

| Dating Boot Camp, long-distance relationships, Matt Titus, playing hard to get, relationship drama

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